WESTMINSTER ABBEY is to have a new tower and its museum and
gallery are to be expanded, in the most significant changes to the
building since the 18th century.
The Dean and Chapter announced on Thursday of last week that
they had been given planning permission by Westminster Council to
construct the tower at the eastern end of the Abbey, to contain a
lift and stairs up to the eastern triforium.
An existing public gallery there, which is rarely visited
because it is difficult to obtain access to it, will be renovated
and expanded, and renamed the Queen's Diamond Jubilee
The new tower has been designed by the Abbey's architect and
Surveyor of the Fabric, Ptolemy Dean, and will be built in a
similar Gothic style to the rest of the Abbey, nestling
unobtrusively into the corner between the Lady chapel and the
The project will cost almost £19 million, the Abbey said. The
money will come from fund-raising, and almost £11 million has
already been raised. Ambitious plans to add a £10-million corona to
the roof were shelved in 2013.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd John Hall, described the
plans as the "most exciting development of the Abbey building for
over 250 years. This planning approval will enable us to approach
with confidence the final stages of the necessary fundraising, and
drive us towards the timely completion and opening of the Queen's
Diamond Jubilee Galleries."
The Galleries will display many of the Abbey's historic
treasures, including the velvet cope worn by a Dean of Westminster
at the coronation of Charles II in 1661, and the Liber
Regalis, a 14th-century illuminated manuscript that sets out
the procedure for coronations.
Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes
about two million visitors each year. The project is expected to be
complete by 2018.